Jan Simons

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Jan Simons (11 November 1925 – 7 May 2006) was a Canadian baritone, and music teacher and administrator. Complementing a vocal performance career in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s, he was a member of the faculty of music at McGill University in Montreal and a long-time teacher and general director at the summer musical camp, CAMMAC.

Vocal studies[edit]

After emigrating from his native Germany, Simons studied voice with Emilio de Gogorza in New York, Leslie Holmes, Emmy Heim and Ernesto Vinci in Toronto, and Yvonne Rodd-Marling in London.


Simons specialized in lieder as well as oratorio, with live, radio, and televised performances in Canada, Europe, and Japan. His solo performances include the 1956 Canadian premiere of the ballet Dark Elegies by the National Ballet of Canada, set to music of Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, the Stratford Festival's first concert, and performances with the Montreal Bach Choir. He was also a founding member of the Festival Singers of Canada. He performed frequently with pianist Michael McMahon and on occasion with Gerald Moore, Glenn Gould and even Oscar Peterson.


Simons taught voice in the Faculty of Music at McGill University from 1961 to 1993, continuing to teach song interpretation as well as vocal technique privately until his death. He also taught for periods of time at Montreal's Marianopolis College and Vanier College. Notable students who went on to vocal careers of their own include Stephanie Marshall, Matthew White, Olivier Laquerre, Michiel Schrey, and Daniel Taylor.

Simons also regularly taught amateurs, both privately, but especially at the summer music camp of Canadian Amateur Musicians/Musiciens Amateurs du Canada (CAMMAC), where he was on the faculty for over 50 years. He was director general for 30 years, long-time artistic advisor, and oversaw the yearly advanced voice studies programme as well as regular vocal training and song interpretation classes.

At various times, Simons was involved as an administrator or musical jury member for the Quebec Competitive Music Festival, the Juno Awards, the Quebec Opus Prize, and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Voice Competition. Simons received the Opus Prix Hommage from the Conseil Québécois de la musique in 2005.


  • Nadia Turbide and Sarah Church, '"Jan Simons", entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia. Downloaded 6 Jun 2011 from [1].
  • Danielle Dubois, "Jan Simons - Winner of the 2005 prix Hommage", in La Scena Musicale, 15 Feb 2005. Downloaded 6 Jun 2011 from [2].
  • Zarya Rubin, "Remembering Jan Simons", in La Scena Musicale, 16 May 2006. Downloaded 6 Jun 2011 from [3].
  • Obituary of Jan Simons, The Montreal Gazette, 14 May 2006, page A14.